How A Personal Injury Attorney Can Prove An Emotional Distress Claim
UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONAL DISTRESS CLAIMS
When you’re seriously injured due to either another’s intentional or negligent acts, it’s expected that your injury won’t only be that of a physical nature. An injury that disrupts your entire life can cause psychological trauma, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While a medical professional may be able to project how long it will take for your injury to heal, there’s no guarantee that you may heal from the emotional distress caused by your accident. If you have a personal injury claim, your attorney may be able to factor your accident-related emotional distress into your damages.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS CLAIMS
There are a few different types of emotional distress claims your personal injury attorney can make depending on the circumstances of your case:
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when another party has intentionally brought physical harm to you. For example, if you were physically assaulted and sustained a serious injury, you may experience emotional distress following the assault and therefore be entitled to an emotional distress claim.
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress occurs when another party has negligently caused you physical harm. For example, if someone’s vicious dog bite you and the owner knew the dog had already bitten before or has a propensity toward being violent, you may develop a crippling fear of dogs or animals. This fear may entitle you to an emotional distress claim.
- You can also use emotional distress to recover damages for “loss of consortium”, which commonly occurs in Wrongful Death cases. If you’ve witnessed the death of a loved one, you may have a strong claim for emotional distress.
Note that many personal injury cases involve emotional distress claims.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SEEING A PSYCHOLOGIST AFTER AN EMOTIONALLY-DISTRESSING ACCIDENT
Much like it’s important to see a medical professional following an injurious accident in order to strengthen your personal injury claim, it’s also important to see a psychologist or psychiatrist after an emotionally-distressing accident. You may end up with a diagnosis, such as anxiety or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Your psychologist and/or psychiatrist’s notes regarding your psychological distress after your accident may strengthen your emotional distress claim. If you haven’t seen a psychologist or psychiatrist after your accident, your personal injury attorney may not be able to argue an emotional distress claim on your behalf.
PROVING AN EMOTIONAL DISTRESS CLAIM
Proving that a physical injury is directly attributable to an accident may be easier for a personal injury attorney than proving that emotional distress or psychological trauma is directly attributable to an accident. Supporting evaluations from a psychologist or psychiatrist are vital to your claim. A diagnosis such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following an injurious accident is difficult to refute. But a personal injury attorney may be able to utilize many aspects of your case in order to factor emotional distress into your damages, such as:
Intensity: The more intense the mental pain and suffering you are experiencing due to your accident, the more of a chance your personal injury attorney will be able to factor an emotional distress claim into your damages.
Duration: If your doctor’s notes indicate that your emotional distress is lasting a long time, the more of a chance your personal injury attorney will be able to factor an emotional distress claim into your damages.
Related Bodily Harm: Frequent headaches, panic attacks or sleeplessness are good examples of “related bodily harm.” If your doctor’s notes indicate that you are manifesting physical signs of emotional distress, this may strengthen your claim.
Underlying Cause: Any type of accident can cause a significant injury, but some accidents are extreme in nature and likely to cause emotional distress if experienced. For example, sustaining an injury in a motor vehicle accident in which someone died can be much more psychologically traumatizing than slipping on another’s property and sustaining an injury. A personal injury attorney can argue for your emotional distress claim by pointing out how extreme your accident actually was in nature.
Doctor’s Notes: Notes written by your psychologist or psychiatrist are vital in supporting your emotional distress claim. This is why it is so crucial to seek psychological evaluation if you feel your personal injury has caused you emotional distress.